NHL's 10 Worst Showboat Moments in This Calendar Century
Even in hockey, where humility is typically preached and practiced to a more commendable degree than in any other sports, the current media age means attention is both abundant and coveted.
In turn, handfuls of NHL players in this century have garnered copious air time on both TV and internet highlight packages through their excessive reactions to goals, saves or fights.
Unfortunately, that air time has served to embarrass themselves and their teams. The video has either extended the life and legacy of an insensitive post-fight gesture, an unsportsmanlike reaction to success or a celebration that conveys obliviousness to a shortage of success.
The 10 players or groups of players guilty of the worst sportsmanship theatrics in the past decade-plus are listed as follows in alphabetical order.
Late in the previous century, a younger Teemu Selanne cemented his spot in the historic highlight reel when he shed his glove and pretended to gun it down.
Judge the appropriateness of that celebration any way you want. At least Selanne’s “target” was an inanimate object.
Last December, Artem Anisimov indubitably stepped several yards over the line when he pretended to fire bullets at the Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and defense. The young Ranger was rightly called out on his display by his opponents as well as his coach, John Tortorella.
After Asham fought Capitals forward Jay Beagle and made the disrespectful gesture seen above, NHL spokesman John Dellapina explained the lack of subsequent discipline to the Washington Times as follows.
"While nobody liked the gestures, they simply did not violate the rules as currently written (Rule 75.2 (i) which calls for a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for "any identifiable player who uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures directed at any person."
Okay, fine (no pun intended). But if nothing else, in the wake of this incident, the rulebook should be revised to include gestures like this.
The recently retired Avery is arguably known most for his obnoxious means of trying to get in the heads of opposing goaltenders. Exhibit A: Martin Brodeur, April 13, 2008. Exhibit B: Tim Thomas, April 4, 2009.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, when he actually did something commendable, namely put a biscuit in the basket for his team, he found a way to inject a reprehensible filling. Or, at least, he did one evening when he was an L.A. King and chose to show up the Nashville Predators by doing pushups behind the goal line.
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images
The video of Ference’s goal celebration during the first round of the 2011 playoffs is too distasteful to post here. But the written accounts of the gesture and the fine it incurred should offer a sufficient explanation of what he did.
When Mike Rupp channeled Jagr after scoring a Winter Classic goal against his Flyers, Braydon Coburn reacted by asking the rhetorical question, “He’s probably got the same amount of goals as Jags, right?”
This, however, should be the question regarding Jagr: Has he really needed to do that all 665 times (743 if you count the playoffs) he has beaten an NHL goaltender? Does he need to draw any more attention to himself beyond the crafty scoring plays he has made even at the age of 40?
Jagr has surely had enough overtime strikes and three-star selections to consume his fill of saluting the fans when a memorable game is done. There is no need for a player like him or like Rupp to do a glove-less goal celebration before the ice chips have settled for the night.
Like the Jagr salute, this is fine for after the game, which was when Kovalev reprised his moonwalk celebration as a member of the Ottawa Senators. But not when there is still time on the clock and all players from both teams are still on the ice or on their benches.
Late in a first-round series during the 2010 playoffs, the former Canuck drew criticism from both parties in the wake of his scrap with L.A.’s Wayne Simmonds and his subsequent celebration.
Yes, it is relatively common for players (or brawlers) to try to incite the home crowd at a moment like this. But O’Brien lingered too long and did this late in a game that his team was already on its way to winning handily, 7-2.
In other words, there was no need to try to fire anybody up any further at that point. All he did was needlessly show up the Kings.
If any player in today’s NHL needs to be told to act like he has scored before, Ovechkin is it. As a matter of fact, the embarrassment of this display is emboldened by the fact that it was reportedly a planned means of acknowledging his 50th goal of the 2008-09 season.
Roy’s infamous “Statue of Liberty” gesture in 2002 took barely a second to start haunting him.
With his Colorado Avalanche safeguarding a 3-2 series lead over the Detroit Red Wings, fans were about as wrong to assume a second straight Stanley Cup Finals berth as Roy was to assume the puck was secure in his mitt.
It wasn’t. Instead, it dripped into the crease, where the Wings facilely raked it home to draw first blood in the crucial final minute of the opening frame.
That would be the first of nine unanswered Detroit goals over the next 100-plus minutes of action, thus usurping the Campbell Bowl from Colorado.
Of his team’s reaction to the final meaningless goal in a 5-2 loss to Carolina on March 3, 2009, then-Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post, with presumed disgust, “We just made it 5-2 and we’re jumping on each other like we won an overtime game.”
Personally, this author was reminded of a bantam game he once witnessed in Minnesota. One team entered knowing it was a decided underdog playing for pride and swung into cathartic jubilation when it spoiled the opponent’s shutout bid late in a 5-1 final.
The Caps could make no such claim. They were a band of star-studded professionals on their way to their second of four consecutive Southeast Division titles that year. Given their recent playoff habits, even that is not worthy of a pile-on celebration.